Birtherism Reborn

Joe and Kamala

Just as President Trump has suggested that violence taking over our cities and the destruction of suburbia are greater threats to our nation than the mounting death toll of the COVID-19 virus, he has now fabricated a new “birther” myth that Kamala Harris isn’t legally qualified to be Vice President based on her parents having been immigrants.  There is, or course, absolutely no truth to the assertion, just as there was no truth to his claims that President Obama wasn’t an American citizen— just as there is never any truth to the lies he and his band of enablers constantly spin.  It’s all nothing but a pathetic attempt to divert us from the fact that Trump and his bumbling, incompetent administration have failed to protect the country from the rising death toll of COVID-19, destroyed our economy, and many people’s lives with it.  It also makes for a good distraction from the fact that he has no plans for his second term other than spinning more lies.  He keeps promising a health care plan, for example, but nothing ever materializes.  

Whether or not Kamala Harris is eligible to be Vice President is almost beside the point.  What Trump is doing is demonstrating to his “base” that he is a member of their tribe, while simultaneously confirming that Kamala Harris, a person of color, is not.  Regardless of whether she is African American (something Donald Jr. questioned at the beginning of the presidential campaign – see Is Kamala Harris Black?), she is most assuredly a member of the dreaded “other,” and thus not one of them.  Trump’s ridiculous birtherism doesn’t merely assert that her candidacy is illegitimate, but that she herself is an illegitimate person in what his base fancies to be their “white world.”

Only Trump Can Protect His Base from the Dreaded “Other”

The President’s objective is far more insidious than merely convincing people not to vote for the Democratic ticket because Harris would be unable to assume the role of Vice President.  No, his revival of birtherism presents one more opportunity to show his base that he “has their back” when they find themselves threatened by the prospect that a member of the dreaded “other” might well hold the second highest office in the land and even become president if anything should happen to 77-year old Joe Biden.  Is there any question that a sizeable portion of Trump’s base view the prospect of a woman of color becoming president as a fate worse than death?  Vote for me and I will protect you from such a fate, Trump’s dog whistle (bullhorn!) says. “I am your voice,” the President has told his base. “Only I can fix it,” he has promised them.  And now, only he can save them from a fate worse than death—the country’s leader being a member of the non-white “other.”

But like so many of Trump’s ridiculous distractions from the reality of his failed presidency, his latest rendition of birtherism may serve to rile up his base but is unlikely to win him any new voters.  Clearly his strategy is to bring his core supporters out in force while simultaneously suppressing the Democratic vote by hindering vote-by-mail and at the very least calling the validity of the election into question. No matter how it plays out, I wholeheartedly agree with those who fear that Trump won’t go quietly if he loses come November.

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